Does the Word Nigga Exist in Utopia?

I am the product of the 1980’s and my musical influence stretches from punk rock, to alternative, to metal, to rap, to R&B and back again. I am a lover of music, through and through. Now, as an adult, from time to time I like to go to Karaoke bars and embody performances of my childhood influences and heroes.   I see no issues with using self-defaming white trash lyrics of punk rock, but I find it rather questionable if I should be allowed to rap the word Nigga. Does the demographic of my audience matter? Does my pronunciation matter? Does the quality of my performance matter? Is there ever a context to which it would be appropriate for me to sing the word Nigga on stage, or more to the point, can I even use it in a essay that examines the word itself?

If an African American sings about racist oppression is it ironic and thought provoking? If I were to sing the exact same song, would I be perceived as a racist or a bigot? I am curious about this double standard. What if I truly have empathy for the plight of a population that was treated poorly, what if I grew up poor and identify to the oppression from a socio-economical perspective, and in some ways, could have much in common as my decedents are poor Irish immigrants who were the victims of British tyranny.  It would be perceived as utterly taboo for me to sing a racist song about African Americans, but doesn’t the implication of division, create division? In other words, anytime you explicitly or implicitly allude to differences, conditions or social schemas that are conditionally based on race, you are reinforcing the idea that there is a difference. So if this was true, then it would be reasonable for me to use any language I wanted, derogatory or not, as the act of creating conditional uses of my language is drawing the conclusion that I am different, hence, expanding the divide. Maybe it’s a completely inappropriate notion, as I have advantaged from white privilege and it’s unfair of me to assume an idealistic a priori view of racism, as it discredits the generations of suffering and the ramifications thereof.   How far can empathy stretch?

Maybe it would be better to examine this in a bubble of Utopia. In a true Utopian society would everybody get to use derogatory language- as the power and insidious connotation would be removed or would there be no derogatory language at all?   If derogatory language was diffused and had no power then would honky just become an amoral adjective to describe a white person? Would it be so simple? However, one thing to consider is Utopia is an ideal society, but it doesn’t, by nature, imply ideal citizens. You can’t have a perfect society with imperfect people. So if we were to create an imaginary society, we’d have to presume imaginary people and from that, we can postulate imaginary ethics. Since this is completely fabricated, I will continue to redefine my imaginary conditions. How could we shape our reality in Utopia to remove the notion of racism? Humans have a natural tendency to create group associations, group identity and subsequently, groupthink. This evolutionary tool of ours has helped us create great societies, but it has also lead to racism, classism, sexism, ageism and much blood has been spilled over defending one group idea against another. Since it would be absurd to assume we, as humans, could enter Utopia and leave our natural tendencies at the door. So we’ll resolve it this way: Let’s say in Utopia there are no physical qualities of humanness- only essence and essence alone. In Utopia there is no race, class, gender, age, disability, creed, religion or any other decisive labeling. In Utopia I cant sing songs with the word Nigga, as it wouldn’t make any sense- it would be a nonsensical word. Would this be perfection?

Can we extrapolate this notion of a racism-free-Utopia a means of providing clues on how to eradicate racism in the real world? Is there a way to remove our physical qualities or forego group identity?  The irony of reality is we condone acts of racism but embrace acts of nationalism and cultural pride, in other words we foster the idea of creating group identity and then we’re mortified when the groups act out against each other. This begs the idea that the solution to end racism is to remove all groups and reconstruct the world with a single language, a single culture, a single currency, a single religion, a single race and a single identity. We become the same. In short, we remove our humanity in the act of trying to promote it. Alas, nothing is gained.

 

 

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